The History of: Brunswick Stew

: Stewpot in which (supposedly) the first Brun...

: Stewpot in which (supposedly) the first Brunswick stew was made. Brunswick and Golden Isles Visitors Bureau, at the Brunswick end of the F J Torras Causeway. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

               Brunswick stew was originally made by several of the Indian tribes long before the colonists arrived.  Squirrels were a popular and important source of food for the Mid – Atlantic region.  At one point squirrels were almost driven to extinction in the region.  They were reintroduced from four squirrels by the national zoo and now they once again overpopulate the area due to a lack of modern interest in them as a food source.

                Squirrels are now seen as little more than tree rats. They are modern day pests that are treated as vermin to be avoided and to a lesser degree feared.  They are often found dead on the side of the road or causing damage in an attic or rooftop, but little thought is really given to them anymore.  People who still eat squirrel are often thought of as a silly stereotype of inbreed country hicks and mountain men who shun civilization.  It would be very hard indeed to find a reliable source for squirrel in you modern supermarket.   

                Squirrels have been relegated to trash food these days, due to the abundance of more popular food products.  Even in this recipe we see the change in the culinary percesption of the food source.  Chicken has replaced the wild game in this recipe.  The stew was originally more of a catch all for assorted leftovers much like the legendary “Whatchagot Stew,” Made famous by Patrick F. McManus

                Every town, city or county named Brunswick has claimed ownership of this dish even though it has strong links in the Native American traditions.  Large pots of communal stew and soups were the norm among Native American tribes.  Hunters would often contribute whatever they had foraged that day into the pot, which would then be mixed with greens or beans or whatever vegetables were available in that season. 

                This specific dish may have in fact come from Jimmy Matthews in 1828 as specific recipes were not the norm for Native tribes. 

                The controversy over the origin of the soup is restricted mainly to Virginia and North Carolina.  The battle over the stews origin is purely anecdotal since none of the stories can be proven or disproved. 

Brunswick Stew[1]

1879

 

                A twenty five cent shank of beef.

                A five cent loaf of bread. – Square loaf, as it has more crumb and the crust is not used.

                1 quart potatoes cooked and mashed.

                1 quart cooked butter beans.

                1 quart raw corn.

                1 ½ quart raw tomatoes peeled and chopped.

 

                If served at two o’clock, put on the shank as for soup, at the earliest possible hour; then about twelve o’clock take the shank out of the soup and shred and all of the meat as fine as you can,  carefully taking out the bone and gristle, and then return it to the soup pot and add all the vegetables; the bread and two slices of middling are an improvement to it. 

                Season each with salt and pepper to the taste; and when ready to serve, drop into the tureen two or three tablespoonfuls butter.  This makes a tureen and about a vegetable – dish full.  – Mrs. R. P.

This receipt is actually typical of an original form of a recipe.  Recipes were initially a form of accounting used in the kitchen to keep track of shopping needs or of inventory.  Even today chefs use recipe costing sheets to determine the price of a dish and account for its profitability, so the root idea of a recipe was that it was less about instruction and more about accounting.

* Side Note: if making this dish the prices above need to be greatly adjusted for inflation.

Brunswick Stew[2]

1879

 

                About four hours before dinner, put on two or three slices of bacon, two squirrels or chickens, one onion sliced, in one gallon water.  Stew some time, then add one quart peeled tomatoes, two ears grated corn, three Irish potatoes sliced, and one handful butter beans, and part pod of red pepper.

                Stew altogether about one hour, till you can take out the bones.  When done, put in one spoonful bread crumbs and one large spoonful butter.  – Mrs. M. M. D.

                The types of meat used in this dish are largely interchangeable.  The primary ingredients are tomatoes, corn and lima beans.  All lima beans are called butter beans down in the southern part of the Mid – Atlantic.  Up north white or yellow, as well as large lima beans are referred to as butter beans.

Brunswick Stew[3]

1879

 

                Take two chickens or three or four squirrels, let them boil in water.  Cook one pint butter beans, and one quart tomatoes; cook with the meat.  When done, add one dozen ears of corn, one dozen large tomatoes, and one pound butter.

                Take out the chicken, cut it into small pieces and put back; cook it until it is well done and thick enough to be eaten with a fork. 

                Season with salt and pepper and salt. – Mrs. R.

 

                The Pennsylvania Dutch also has a claim to this soup with one humorous exception.    It is mentioned in a tale of folklore brought over from the low country (Rhine Valley) of Europe, now commonly known as Germany.  It is the story of Stone Soup:

                “Once there was a farmer’s who had a visitor.  He was a devious sort of fellow, so instead of saying he was hungry he told her that he could make stone soup.  The farmwife had made soup from just about everything else in her day, but she had never tried to get soup from a stone.

                “First,” directed the visitor, “you find a fine, round stone in the fields.  Wash it and polish it carefully and drop it into a kettle of boiling water.  I will get the stone while you set the water to boil.  But not too much water…”

                He returned with the stone and the soup making began.  The stone went into the kettle with a flourish.  “Now,” said the man, “add some potatoes and some cabbage and some onions.  Oh yes, and some corn and some string beans and, let’s see… some tomatoes.  Better add a little parsley and some seasoning too.  And, while you are at it toss in a good sized piece of meat.  Now there, I think that is all.  This is stone soup.”

                And so he ate it.”

Brunswick Stew[4]

1886

 

(Mrs. Cobb, of Richmond, Va.)

 

1 Chicken (4 Pounds)                                                                    

1 Quart of Tomatoes

4 Medium Sized Potatoes                                                           

1 Pint of Very Tender Lima Beans

1 Pint of Grated Corn                                                                    

1 large Onion

½ Pound of Lean Ham                                                                   

¼ Pound of Butter

1 Tablespoon of Chopped Parsley                                           

3 Quarts of Boiling Water

Salt, Cayenne and Black Pepper to Taste

 

                Draw, singe, and cut up the chicken as for a fricassee.  Put it in a large saucepan with the boiling water, the onion sliced and ham cut into a dice.  Cover the saucepan and simmer gently for one and a half hours.  Then add the salt, the tomatoes peeled and sliced, the potatoes pared and cut into quarters, the corn, beans, parsley, cayenne and black pepper.  Cover again and simmer one hour longer; then add the butter cut into bits and rolled in flour; stir five minutes over the fire, and serve.

                Great care must be taken or the stew will scorch.  Keep it over a very moderate fire, and stir frequently from the bottom of the saucepan.

                This stew, if carefully prepared, is most delicious.  It may be made in winter from the canned vegetables; but, of course, is not so good.

                This recipe originally came from the southern portion of the Mid – Atlantic region and extends down into the Low Country as it was also popular among slaves since they were given many vegetable provisions and had to hunt for sources of protean at night when they were not being forced to work.  A lot of nocturnal animals were the sources of food for them and were worked into the southern diet later on after the fall of the south in the Civil War.  Muskrat and squirrels were rodents that were easy pray for slaves in need of substance. 

Old Virginia Brunswick Stew[5]

1922

 

                Boil one chicken and one rabbit or squirrel in two or three quarts of water.  When about half done add one quart of lima beans, one quart of tomatoes, one quart of corn and butter the size of two eggs.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and cook until thick enough to eat with a fork. 

 

                This is the first mention of using rabbit in this dish.  At first it was sort of a beef stew in 1879 recipe, by now it is firmly established as a game stew. 

               

Brunfwick Stew[6]

1938

 

                Cut up two Squirrls (or a three pound chicken) and put in a large pan with three quarts of water, one large fliced onion, one half pound of lean ham cut in fmall pieces and fimmer gently for two hours.  Add three pints of tomatoes, one pint of lima beans, four large irsfh potatoes diced, one pint grated corn, one tablespoon salt, one forth teafpoon pepper, a fmall pod of red pepper.  Cover and fimmer gently for one more hour firring frequently to prevent scorching.  Add three ounces of butter and ferve hot.

                The squirrel gives this stew a unique game flavor that is not really replicated by the mild flavor of the chicken.  The mild flavor of the chicken makes the dish more palatable to the modern diner, but the richness of Mr. Jimmy Matthews’ original stew cannot be replicated with just chicken.  It is necessary to add ham, bacon or a rich cut of beef

 

Brunswick Stew[7]

1958

 

“First catch your chickens, clean and cut them.

And in an iron pot you put them;

And water nearly to the top

And in it salt and pepper drop;

Boil slowly.  Your tomatoes peel;

Put in a shin or so of veal;

And for a flavor bear in mind,

A chuck of middling with the rind.

Next, some onions you throw in,

The young and tender skin,

And butter beans do not forget;

And what is more important yet,

The corn; but do not be too fast,

This you must cut and add it last;

For butter then the flour you’ll find it’ll do.

To give a thickness to the stew.

Some lemons peel cut very thin

May now be added and stirred in,

And ‘ere it is taken from the fire

Give it a dash of Worcestershire,

And soon you will hear its praises ring,

This is a dish fit for a king.”

                                                Old Brunswick County Recipes

                This is a clever rhyme version of the recipe that is found in many cookbooks.  The earliest I found was in this cookbook from 1958.  This style of recipe is unique to this region in that it was taught as a song as well as an instructional recipe to young girls. 

Brunswick Stew[8]

1962

 

6 Slices Boiling Bacon (fatback)

1 (2 Pound) Frying Chicken, Cut Up

1 (32 Oz.) Can Tomatoes

1 Quart Cold Water

2 Medium Onions, Finely Chopped

2 Medium White Potatoes, Peeled and Cut Up, (not to fine)

2 Cups Chopped Cabbage

1 ½ Cup Lima Beans

Salt and Red Pepper

1 ½ Cups Fresh Corn

 

                Cut bacon in small pieces and fry in a pot.  If bacon yields too much fat, remove some.  Add chicken and let brown in bacon grease.  (Don’t use the backs and wings of the chicken.) Add tomatoes, water, chopped onions, potatoes, cabbage and lima beans.  Season with salt and red pepper (not cayenne) to taste.  Let this cook over low heat for 4 to 5 hours, stirring frequently, as it sticks and burns easily.  Then pick out all the bones from the stew.  Ten minutes before serving, add corn and watch carefully as corn sinks to the bottom and burns if it is not stirred often.  Success depends on long, slow cooking.

                When perfect, it should not be soupy.  This stew is also very nice served cold but usually is served hot.  It can be warmed over and when frozen in deep freeze, it seems to keep indefinitely.   Serves 12.

–          Eleanor Williams Miles (Mrs. Clarence W.)

 

This dish uses the addition of cabbage which was a culinary staple in America during this time.  Cabbage and potatoes were served almost universally with every meal in most American homes.

Squirrel Brunswick Stew[9]

1963

 

2 Squirrels (or 2 chickens) cut up, 3 slices bacon, 1 onion, 1 quart peeled tomatoes, 2 ears corn, grated; 3 potatoes, 1 handful butter beans, one pod red pepper, 1 tablespoon butter, 1 tablespoon bread crumbs.

               

                Put squirrels, bacon and sliced onion on to boil in a gallon of water about 4 hours before dinner.  Stew about 1 hour, then add other ingredients and stew until the bones of the squirrels can be readily removed.  Then put in the bread crumbs and butter.

 

Galt Family Recipe

Elizabeth W. Bond                                                                                          Baltimore

                 This dish use bread crumbs as thickeners.  They would be considered bisques in Europe.  The classical definition of bisque is that it is thickened with bread crumbs instead of flour or starch.

Chowning’s Tavern Brunswick Stew[10]

1971

 

(8 – 10 Servings)

                By all accounts, every place named Brunswick from Canada to the Carolinas has tried to claim the stew as its own.  There have also been many arguments about what precisely went into the original pot, and what should go in now. 

                All in all, Brunswick County, Virginia, has had the best claim to being the birthplace to the popular dish, which in its hayday was served in all of Virginia’s tobacco curing and public gatherings.  The story goes that a hunting party in Brunswick County, well provisioned with tomatoes, onions, cabbage, butter beans, red pepper, bacon, salt and corn, left one man behind to mind the commissary and have dinner ready at days end.  Disgruntled, he shot a squirrel, the only thing he could find within range of the camp, and threw it into the pot along with the vegetables.   When it was served, everybody agreed that squirrel, one of the finest and tenderist of all wild meats, was what made the new stew just right.  Chicken is now substituted. 

 

1 Stewing Hen (6 Pounds), or 2 Boiler Fryers (3 Pounds Each)    

2 Large Onions, Sliced

2 Cups Okra, Cut (Optional)

4 Cups Fresh, or 2 Cans (1 Pound Each) Tomatoes

2 Cups Lima Beans

3 Medium Potatoes, Diced

4 Cups Corn Cut from Cob or 2 Cans (1 Pound Each) Corn

3 Teaspoons Salt

1 Teaspoon Pepper

1 Tablespoon Sugar

 

                Cut the chicken in pieces and simmer it in 3 quarts of water fro a thin stew, or 2 quarts fro a thick stew, until meat can be easily be removed from the bones, about 2 ½ hours.

                Add the raw vegetables to the broth and simmer, uncovered, until the beans and potatoes are tender.

                Stir occasionally to prevent scorching.

                Add the chicken, boned and diced if desired, and the seasoning.

                Note: If canned vegetables are used, include their juices and reduce water to 2 quarts for a thin stew, 1 quart for a thick stew.

                Also Note: Brunswick stew is one of those delectable things that benefit from long, slow cooking.  It is a rule in some tidewater homes never to eat Brunswick stew the same day it is made, because its flavor improves if it is left overnight and is reheated the next day. 

 

                This version of the dish uses Okra as an additional thickener and gives the dish a more Creole or African influence.  At this point the squirrels have been eliminated all together as an option for the meat in the stew, and chicken is prescribed exclusively, showing the trend in America away from wild meat and more towards commercially grown food products. 

Brunswick Stew[11]

1971

 

  • Two 2 ½ to 3 – pounds chicken, each cut into 8 pieces, or substitute 5 to 6 pounds rabbit, cut into serving pieces and thoroughly defrosted if frozen
  • 2 pounds boneless chuck or shoulder or veal in 1 piece, trimmed of excess fat
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 cups thinly sliced onion
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped celery, including 2 inches of green tops
  • 1 ham bone (about 2 pounds), preferably from baked Smithfield or country ham sawed into 2 – inch pieces (optional)
  • 1 medium sized bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 3 sprigs parsley
  • 1 fresh hot red chili, washed, seeded and crushed
  • 3 pounds (about 9) tomatoes, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1 pound fresh butter beans or wax beans (4 cups), washed and trimmed
  • 8 tablespoons (1 quarter pound stick) unsalted butter, cut into bits
  • 4 cups fresh corn kernels, cut from about 8 large ears of corn, or substitute 4 cups thoroughly defrosted frozen corn kernels
  • 1 ½ pounds ( about 4) medium sized boiling potatoes, peeled, boiled and coarsely mashed (about 4 cups)
  • ¼ Cup finely chopped parsley

 

Sprinkle the chicken and chuck (or veal) with the salt and several grindings of black pepper.  In an 8 to 10 quart casserole, heat the vegetable oil until very hot but not smoking.  Add the chicken a few pieces at a time, and fry over moderately high heat, turning the pieces at a time, and fry over moderately high heat, turning the pieces frequently until golden brown.  Transfer the chicken to a platter.  In the remaining fat, similarly brown the chuck (or veal) on all sides, then transfer it to the platter of chicken.  Pour off all but a thin film of the oil from the casserole, add the onions and celery and, stirring constantly, cook over moderate heat until the vegetables are soft but not brown.  Return the chicken and meat to a casserole, and add the ham bone (if you are using it), bay leaf, basil, parsley sprigs, chili and tomatoes.  Pour in enough cold water to cover the ingredients by 1 inch and bring to a boil over high heat.  Then lower the heat and simmer tightly covered for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the chicken is tender.  With tongs or a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a platter or cutting board, leaving the other meat in the pot.

                Cover the casserole again and simmer for about 1 hour longer, or until the meat shows no resistance when pierced deeply with the prongs of a large fork.  Transfer the meat and ham bone to a platter with the chicken.

                Add the beans to the casserole and cook uncovered over high heat for 10 or 15 minutes, or until they are tender but still resistant to the bite. 

                With a small knife, remove the skin and bones from the chicken and discard them.  Cut off any meat from the ham bone of you have used it, and cut the chicken meat and beef or veal into 1 inch pieces.  Return all pieces to the casserole along with any juices that may have accumulated on the platter.  Stir in the butter and the corn.  Simmer the stew uncovered for 5 minutes, until the potatoes have been absorbed by the liquid and have thickened the stew.  Add the chopped parsley and taste for seasoning.

                Serve the stew directly from the casserole, or from a heated bowl.  Brunswick stew is often served over southern dry rice.

 

                In this version of the recipe we see the modern combination of Beef, Pork and Chicken in the stew.  This version is found more in the Southern regions as opposed to the Northern versions.

Brunswick Stew[12]

1977

 

1 ½ Lbs. Round Steak                                                                     

1 Large Can Tomatoes

3 Medium Potatoes                                                                       

2 Packages Frozen Baby Lima Beans

4 Cans Corn                                                                                       

1 Tbsp. Sugar

Salt & Pepper

 

                Cover meat with salted water 2” above meat and simmer 1 ½ – 2 hours or until tender.  Add tomatoes, simmer 15 minutes more, add potatoes, simmer 20 minutes more.  Add corn and lima beans and simmer 25 minutes more.  At the end of cooking time and 1 Tbsp. sugar and salt and pepper to taste. 

                                                                                                                Mrs. Williams F. Cummings, Jr.

                                                                                                                Arlington, Va.

This recipe seems to be an ultra scaled back version of the dish that has little in common with the original other then the name.  Beef is the only ingredient used in substitution of the chicken or squirrel.  This is more of a beef vegetable soup more common in the Mediterranean.   

Brunswick Stew[13]

1977

 

1 (3 – 4 Lb.) Stewing Chicken, Cut Up                                     

2 (12 Oz.) Pkg. Frozen Lima Beans

Boiling Water                                                                                   

1 (12 Oz.) Can Whole Kernel Corn

1 Tsp. Salt                                                                                           

1 (1 Lb.) Corn Cut Okra

¼ C. Chopped Onion                                                                     

Few Grains of Pepper

1 (1 Lb.) Can Tomatoes                                                                 

1 Tsp. Worcestershire Sauce

 

                Cover chicken with boiling water; cover and simmer 1 hour.  Add salt, onion and tomatoes; simmer ½ hour.  Lift out chicken.  Cool enough to handle; remove meat from bones in as large pieces as possible.  Remove meat in kettle.  Add lima beans, corn and okra (including liquid).  Add pepper and Worcestershire sauce; cook ½ hour longer. 

                If desired, stew may be thickened slightly with ¼ cup flour mixed to a smooth paste with ½ cup of cold water. 

                Serves 6 to 8.

 

                                                                                                                Hazel Staley

This dish shows the more modern adaptation of the dish.  The more wild or gamey tastes of the squirrel and preserved meats like pork and beef have been replaced with the milder flavor of the chicken.  There is still a distinction made between the chickens at this point in time.  A stewing chicken is an older chicken, usually a hen that has outlived her usefulness as a source of eggs and is usually sold for much less than a young chicken due to the development of sinew and muscles in the bird which make it tougher.  Stewing the bird is a great way to utilize an older chicken since the water and long cooking time will help break down the cartilage and sinews into a liquid gelatin state, making the stew richer and the meat more tender.  The older chickens also have a stronger flavor mimicking the more gamey taste of the squirrel, but never really capturing the original taste.

Brunswick Stew[14]

1977

 

                The Jamestown settlers gave the name to this particularly favorite “game soup” prepared by the women of the Powhatan, Cherokee, and Chickahominy tribes.  This seasonal mixture of game or fowl was usually squirrel, rabbit, or turkey accompanied by corn, beans and tomatoes it is a grand way of absorbing leftovers.

 

One five pound capon or boiling chicken                            

2 cups shelled lima beans

2 dried bayberry leaves                                                                               

10 dried juniper berries

3 sprigs parsley                                                                                

½ teaspoon dried oregano

1 stalk celery                                                                                    

2 cloves wild garlic

2 potatoes, cubed                                                                          

6 ripe tomatoes, quartered

2 large onions, cubed                                                                   

1 tablespoon fresh basil

2 cups corn kernels

 

                Simmer the whole chicken, with water to cover, in a large covered kettle, with the bayberry leaves, parsley, and celery stalk, for two hours.  When the meat seems tender, remove the chicken from the pot; cool slightly.  Separate the meat from the bones and return the meat to the broth.

                Add all remaining ingredients to a kettle, except the tomatoes and basil, and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.  Add the tomatoes and basil and simmer 10 minutes more.  Serve at once, with corn dumplings if desired. 

                This is a version of the Native American origin of the dish.  This dish shows the reliance of dried and wild product that was essential not just to the Native Americans, but also to the original European settlers who depended on wild and preserved foods for years before a sustainable agriculture could be developed. 

 

Brunswick Stew[15]

1983

 

4 Gray Squirrels                                                                               

4 Cups Fresh Corn, or 2 1 Lb. Cans

1 6 Pound Stewing Chicken                                                        

3 Teaspoons Salt

2 Large Onions, Sliced                                                                  

1 Tablespoon Sugar

4 Cups Fresh Tomatoes, or 2 1 Lb. Cans                                 

½ Teaspoon Pepper

2 Cups Lima Beans                                                                          

½ Cup Dry, White Wine

3 Medium Potatoes, Diced

 

                Cut squirrel and chicken in pieces and simmer in 2 or 3 quarts water, enough to cover, until meat is tender, about 1 ½ hours squirrel and 2 ¼ hours for chicken.  Remove meat from bones.  Add remaining ingredients to broth, (not meat) and simmer uncovered until vegetables are tender.  Add meat and serve.  Better if made a day ahead and reheated.

                Yields: 8 to 10 servings

                Everett Adams

                This version of the stew calls for both squirrels and chicken.  With the exception of the white wine it is very similar to the original concept.

Brunswick Stew[16]

1998

 

4 Pounds Chicken Breasts                                                           

2 Pounds Beef

2 Pounds Pork                                                                                  

3 Quarts Tomatoes

2 Quarts Lima Beans                                                                      

2 Cups Chopped Onions

3 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce                                    

1 ¼ Teaspoons Tabasco sauce, Or To Taste

Salt and Pepper, To Taste                                                           

6 Potatoes, Cubed

2 Quarts Fresh Corn Kernels                                                      

1 Cup Butter, Sliced

¼ Cup Flour

 

                Cook the chicken breasts in water to cover in a saucepan until tender and cooked through.  Cook the beef in water and cover in a saucepan until tender.  Cook the pork in water to cover in a saucepan until cooked through.  Drain the chicken, beef and pork, reserving the broths.  Shred or chop the chicken, beef and pork discarding the skin and bones.  Combine the chicken, beef, pork, reserved broths, tomatoes, lima beans, onions, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, salt and pepper in a large stockpot.  Simmer 2 to 3 hours or longer.  Add the potatoes and corn.  Cook until the potatoes are nearly tender, stirring frequently to prevent scorching.  Roll the butter slices in the flour.  Add to the stockpot.  Cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.  Yield; 20 to 25 servings.

                This recipe shows a more modern version of the dish in which great quantities of different meats are used in the recipe.  In the more classic versions it was only squirrel used or the substitution of Chicken, but here we have beef, pork, chicken as well as veal and squirrel have been attached to this dish.  Spicy peppers have also become a tradition that was not found in the original.  That influence most likely came from the slaves who introduced more spices into the cooking of American dishes due to the low quality of the product that they were given as well as the African and Caribbean influences that they brought with them. 

 

Brunswick Stew

Christopher Gobbett

2009

 

We divide two chickens in a pot

With water and meripoix to cover

We add to this one small ham hock

With a sachet d’spice tucked under

 

Let simmer away for four hours

Carefully skimming all the fat away

Remove all the bones of the chicken and pig

And save them for another day

 

Return the meat to the stock

With a quart of ripe canned tomatoes

Add butter beans, corn, onions and kale

 Then add in a dozen cooked red potatoes

 

Add water to cornstarch to make a fine little slurry

And set the soup up to boil

When rolling add just enough to bring it together

And rehearse a great tale of your toils

 

A great controversy may surround the name

Of the man who made this the first

But all set aside the this stew still remains

One of the finest Mid – Atlantic dish none the same

                Apart from the change in culinary tastes in the switching of the squirrels for chicken to the addition of beef and pork into the dish, the stew has become sort of a catch all.  It has grown to include butter beans or lima beans as well.  The primary ingredients that have been retained from the original are tomato and corn.  The rest of the ingredients really depend on what you have in the cupboard.  The potential for evolution in this dish is practically limitless, as you can add almost anything and still retain a tomato and corn stew. 


[1] Housekeeping in Old Virginia: Marion Cabell Tyree, John P. Morton and Company Louisville, KY. 1879

[2] Housekeeping in Old Virginia: Marion Cabell Tyree, John P. Morton and Company Louisville, KY. 1879

[3] Housekeeping in Old Virginia: Marion Cabell Tyree, John P. Morton and Company Louisville, KY. 1879

[4] Mrs. Rorer’s Philadelphia Cookbook: A Manuel for Home Economics by Mrs. Sarah Tyson Heston Rorer: Applewood Books 1886

[5] Aunt Caroline’s Dixieland Recipes by Emma & William McKinney: Laird & Lee, Inc. Publishers 1922

[6] The Williamsburg Art of Cookery or Accomplished Gentlewomen’s Companion by Ms. Helen Bullock: Colonial Williamsburg Inc. 1938

[7] Recipes from Old Virginia Compiled by Virginia Association for Family & Community Education, Inc.: The Dietz Press 1958

[8] Queen Anne Goes to the Kitchen by the Episcopal Church Women of St. Paul’s Parish: Tidewater Publishers 1962

[9] Maryland’s Way: The Hammond – Harwood House Cookbook by Mrs. Lewis R. Andrews & Mrs. J. Reaney Kelly: Press of Judd & Detweiler Inc. 1966

[10] The Williamsburg Cookbook: Traditional and Contemporary recipes adapted from the taverns and inns of Colonial Williamsburg  by Letha Booth & Joan Perry Dutton: The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation 1975

[11] American Cooking: Southern Style: Foods of the World by Time Life Books: Time Inc. 1971

[12] VIP Cookbook by The American Cancer Society Virginia Division Inc.: Ray Freson 1977

[13] Montgomery County Fair Cookbook: Fundcraft Publishing Inc. 1977

[14] Native Harvests: American Indian Wild Food and Recipes by E. Barrie Kavasch: Dover Publications, Inc.  1977

[15] The Chesapeake Collection: A Treasury of Recipes and Memorabilia from Maryland’s Eastern Shore: Wimmer Brothers Books 1983

[16] Seaboard to Sideboard: A Collection of Recipes from the Junior League of Wilmington, North Carolina: Favorite Recipes Press 1998

About midatlanticcooking

Chef in the Mid-Atlantic region for over 20 years. Painter, writer and traveler.
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4 Responses to The History of: Brunswick Stew

  1. Pingback: Influential Mid-Atlantic Cooks | midatlanticcooking

  2. 1EarthUnited says:

    Thanks for the great recipes, I’m a very devoted soup and stew person, and can appreciate subtle nuances in really great home made stews. Thanks for an excellent post, can’t wait to get started!

  3. ronnie says:

    enjoyed the article.home cook stews and soups all winter long.

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